Jerry Maguire Jerry Maguire on Blu-ray disc

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has given Cameron Crowe's "Jerry Maguire" an excellent Blu-ray treatment, a mostly clean edition that's well worth having in your collection.

Tom Cruise is the title character, a sports agent who suddenly develops a conscience. Whatever happened to the pursuit of excellence, he wonders, to having relationships with your clients rather than just being the keeper in a high priced meat market?

He puts his thoughts down on paper, a mission statement for where he thinks he and his company should go, and everyone seems to love it and agree with him.

But it's just lip service and shortly thereafter Jerry has been shown the door and screwed out of most of his clients at the same time. He ends up keeping only one, a talented receiver named Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr. in an Oscar-winning portrayal) who has talent to spare, but a bad attitude that's preventing him from getting the big NFL bucks he so desires.

Jerry, meanwhile, has teamed up with the one person at his old office who had the courage (or stupidity) to throw her lot in with him: Dorothy Boyd (the luminous Renée Zellweger). She's his assistant/accountant, but soon they begin an after-hours relationship spurred on by his desperation and her maternal concern - as well as Jerry's budding relationship with Dorothy's precocious son.

This is a wonderful movie, a Cameron Crowe tour de force. It's at heart a romance, but it's also about personal growth and character and the pursuit of excellence. It's also funny and, overall, a very welcome sight in this cynical age.

Crowe not only cast the movie beautifully, he also has a knack for choosing music that's perfect for the mood, from the opening segment with The Who's "Magic Bus" (from the original, unremastered Live at Leeds), through selections from Paul McCartney's first solo album and various other rock classics. Crowe's wife, Nancy Wilson, also wrote and performs some very nice music that blends with the other songs beautifully.

As mentioned, the cast is excellent. Cruise may be a whacko in real life, but he's wonderful as Jerry Maguire. We get to watch him go from jaded to exultant - to desperate - and back again, with many other states of mind in between, And Zellweger is cast perfectly as the single mother trying to make it while keeping her head in a difficult world. Gooding Jr. deserved his Oscar; he brings a likable exuberance to his role in a performance that leaps right out of the screen at you.

Mention should also be made of Bonnie Hunt's outstanding performance as Dorothy's older sister; also keep an eye out for a variety of sports stars in cameos and walk ons.

Cameron Crowe is a huge talent. Jerry Maguire is a gift that keeps on giving every time you watch it and we're pleased to see it getting new life on Blu-ray..

The disc is excellent as well. The 1080p picture is presented in widescreen (a proper 1.85:1, which leaves slight black bars on the 16x9 screen) and though the picture displays some grain at many places, when it's good it nearly leaps out of the screen at you, with excellent detail and black levels..

Likewise the audio, which here is offered in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround, is also terrific. We would have liked to see it just a tad louder , but that's really picking nits. Crowe's use of rock music coupled with crowd-filled stadium footage makes the need for good sound even more compelling and, other than our slight angst about the volume, they've come through.

You also get a pile of extras. You're treated to a running commentary with Crowe, Cruise, Gooding Jr., and Zellweger, and it's pretty interesting. As well, there are some deleted scenes with commentary, rehearsal footage with commentary, Rod Tidwell's "First Commercial," Drew Rosenhaus: How to Be a Sports Agent (not the best extra ever offered by any means), Bruce Springsteen's "Secret Garden" music video (the song is prominent in the movie), a "making of" featurette, Jerry's Mission Statement, and some BD trailers and a short introduction to the format that's totally unnecessary unless you want to run it looping in video or home electronics stores.

Recommended highly.

Jerry Maguire, from Sony Pictures Entertainment Home Video
139 min. 1080p widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround
Starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Renée Zellweger
Produced by James L. Brooks, Richard Sakai, Laurence Mark Cameron Crowe,
Written and Directed by Cameron Crowe

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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